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September 18, 2012
Thanks to a policy that has been more than two years in the making, Whole Foods Market announced that every “organic” personal care product in its Whole Body Department has a third-party certification.
This means that all organic personal care products carried in domestic Whole Foods stores meet the following criteria:
Products making an “Organic” product claim must be certified to the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) standard for organic products (at least 95 percent organic content).
Products making a “Made with Organic [Ingredient]” claim must be certified to the USDA’s National Organic Program standard for Made with Organic products (at least 70 percent organic content).
Products making a “Contains Organic [Ingredient]” claim must be certified to the NSF/ANSI 305 Organic Personal Care Standard.
Products listing an organic ingredient in the “Ingredients” listing must contain organic ingredients that are certified to the USDA NOP standard.
The initial date to enforce the policy was June 1, 2011. However, supply-chain complexities and labeling hurdles demanded that Whole Foods push back the deadline to accommodate companies in the process of making the changes to comply with the policy.
In the absence of FDA or USDA regulations (with the exception of California Organic Products Act) over the use of “natural” or “organic” on personal care, Whole Foods’ standard represents the power of retailers to change industry.
To stay on Whole Foods’ shelves, companies have responded in various ways. Steps included taking organic out of their names and reformulating to meet organic standards and therefore continuing to market their products as organic. Other retailers are also stocking their shelves with the new products, which makes the policy's impact even more significant.
Brands such as Aubrey ditched the "O" word from products that aren’t certified, while other companies, including Pangea Organics and Avalon Organics, opted for a third-party certification for their entire lines. Pangea’s products are now split between USDA Organic and the NSF/ANSI 305 “Contains Organic” ingredients certifications, while all of Avalon’s products are certified to NSF/ANSI 305.
New companies such as Nourish Organic Food For Healthy Skin are also formulating to meet Whole Foods standards. Nourish, which launched earlier this year and is showing at Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore this week, is entirely USDA Organic.
“[Whole Foods] put the message out to the industry that we need more fair trade and organic products and that if you produce them, companies like Whole Foods will do their best to promote you,” Mike Bronner, vice president of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, told newhope360 at Expo West in March.
The brand has advocated for honest organic personal care labeling for years and is now focusing on the same transparency for fair trade and GMOs.
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